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Daniel and Revelation
Introduction to Revelation
Revelation is packed full of symbols that can be found in the Old Testament. How often is the Old Testament used to interpret the meaning of these symbols? There are four traditional interpretations of Revelation: historicist, preterist, idealist (spiritualist), and dispensational futurist.
The historicist view tries to equate the various seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath with historical events that have occurred since the time of the apostles until the end of the age. History is used to interpret the meaning. The Old Testament is not used. The seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 1-3 are usually interpreted as representing seven periods in church history. The preterist view takes a similar approach but limits the historical events to those of 70 AD, or sometimes as late as 400 AD. The Old Testament is again not used as the primary motivation for interpretation.
The idealist view does not believe that Revelation speaks about specific events. Revelation is seen as a description of the conflict between good and evil in all generations. Scholars agree that Revelation is packed full of Old Testament allusions. But most scholars, especially those with historicist, preterist, or idealist views, do not believe that the Old Testament should be used in its interpretation. They simply consider it to be the language of which John was familiar.
The dispensational futurist view reads Revelation chronologically and interprets the seals, trumpets, and bowls more literally. These are future events that occur after the pre-tribulation rapture. (The dispensationalists believe in the pre-tribulation rapture.) Since it is assumed that the antichrist will be revealed after the rapture, they assume that the first seal, a man riding on a white horse, is the revealing of the antichrist. With the exception of the beast from Daniel 7, dispensationalists do not generally use the Old Testament all that much either.
All four views have this one big thing in common. None of them allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Any valid interpretation of Revelation must show how all the symbols that come from the Old Testament fit into the interpretation. And the Old Testament must be used to obtain the meaning of these symbols.
Revelation also has a theme. The theme of Revelation can be found in the letters to the seven churches. Most people seem to look at chapters 4 onward as being independent and unconnected to chapters 1-3. Chapters 1-3 establish the theme of Revelation. And chapter 22 supports this central theme in conclusion. The theme is that the Bride must make herself ready (Revelation 19:7) for Christ to return. Every single one of the seven letters speaks about the need to overcome sin in order to inherit the kingdom. Each of these letters also speak about knowing what the Spirit is saying to the churches. By context, the Spirit is teaching us to be holy. That's what happens when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. The book of Revelation has a theme of holiness. The theme is saying that Christ will come again, but great tribulation (Revelation 7:14) must come first, because the Bride must make herself ready for Christ to return. Getting ready is all about holiness. It's about overcoming all the sinful habits in our lives. This is also the theme of Matthew 24, which is to watch and be ready for Christ to return, but that great tribulation comes first. Any valid interpretation of Revelation must show how each part of Revelation supports and builds upon this theme.
Revelation 1:3 NIV Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Revelation not only has a theme, it also has a personal reason given for its reading. The first three verses of Revelation give the reason for the reading of Revelation. Revelation 1:3 says that if we read Revelation, and take to heart what is written in it, we will be blessed. No other book of the Bible offers a blessing for reading the book, and taking to heart what is written. The reason given for the blessing is that the time is near. So, every generation is to believe that Christ can return in their lifetime, but that great tribulation will come first. This forces every Christian of every generation to ask the question, "Am I willing to die for Christ?" Thus, Revelation is the only book in the Bible that is really about martyrdom. When we take Revelation seriously, and when we see Revelation as speaking about our own personal futures, that humbling experience gives us a blessing of holiness.
In the context of the coming great tribulation, Jesus said, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22, 24:13, Mark 13:13). Jesus was always warning about the future great tribulation. If one does not believe that great tribulation is coming, it nullifies much of what Jesus told us. We are to take up our crosses and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). In other words, Jesus taught the very same theme as Revelation. When great tribulation is not expected, one tends to miss the very personal and real meaning of what Jesus requires of us. Those who do not take up their cross are not worthy of Christ (Matthew 10:38). So anyone whose theology or personal beliefs is such that it avoids the possibility of the great tribulation and martyrdom is probably not a true disciple of Christ. The theme of Revelation is to be ready for Christ to return, which means to have overcome all sinful habits and to be ready for martyrdom. Overcoming all sinful habits is the only way to be ready for martyrdom. Those who emotionally cling to the pre-tribulation rapture are probably not ready for martyrdom. This is the blessing of reading Revelation, and taking it to heart. Any valid interpretation of Revelation must be in harmony with its blessing. (See Appendix A for the “Problems with the Pre-tribulation Rapture.”)
But if, like the dispensationalists, we say we will skip over great tribulation we destroy this blessing. If we say the great tribulation continues throughout the church age, we destroy this blessing. If we say that Revelation is not a literal part of our personal futures, like the preterist and spiritualist interpretations, then we destroy this blessing. Or if we say the scope of the great tribulation is a middle-east local domain, and we don't live in the middle-east, then we destroy the blessing that is promised in Revelation 1:3. All these are more popular views of Revelation that miss out on what Jesus really meant by, "Take up your cross and follow me."
Martyrdom is an important aspect of the theme of Revelation. The fifth seal, which is about the souls under the altar, is about martyrdom. Revelation 12:11 says, "They overcame him because of the Lamb's blood, and because of the word of their testimony. They didn't love their life, even to death." Revelation 13:7 talks about the antichrist making war against the saints and overcoming them. Then verse 13:10 talks about the saints going into captivity and being killed by the sword. The verse says, "This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints" (NIV). Revelation 17:6 speaks of the woman, "drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus." Revelation 20:4 speaks about the "souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God."
We overcome sin by doing the works of the Father. This brings us up in maturity to the point of truly being willing to die for Christ. Many believe they would die for Christ. But like Peter, when put to the test, they would find that sin will creep in and cause us to lie and deny Christ. Since Revelation is all about overcoming all our sinful habits, to the point of being willing to die for Christ, it would be fitting to go back and look at Peter's story. We need to look at what it took for Peter to mature to the point of becoming a martyr for Christ.
During the Lord’s Supper the evening before the crucifixion, Jesus went around the room and washed the disciples’ feet. Peter was very reluctant to have his Lord wash is feet.
John 13:6-9 Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" (7) Jesus answered him, "You don't know what I am doing now, but you will understand later." (8) Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I don't wash you, you have no part with me." (9) Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
Jesus was teaching Peter and the other disciples a lesson that they would not understand until after the resurrection. Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Why was this lesson so important that Peter could not be a true disciple of Jesus unless he learned it? How many people today have also not learned this lesson or taken it to heart, yet consider themselves disciples of Jesus?
Salvation is a free gift, received by grace alone. But discipleship requires lots of work. We can be saved from death, which is to be resurrected to see the kingdom, as a free gift. But then there is the possibility of a second death (Rev. 20:6, 20:14, and 21:8). Those who inherit the kingdom, however, also inherit eternal life. They have worked to overcome sin, and are excluded from the possibility of a second death (Rev. 2:11). Jesus told his disciples, who already believed in him, to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33, Luke 12:31). Those who inherit the kingdom also inherit eternal life. How do we seek the kingdom? We must be a servant and do the works the Father has given for us. We must find our calling and devote our lives to serving Christ.
John 13:12-17 So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? (13) You call me, 'Teacher' and 'Lord.' You say so correctly, for so I am. (14) If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (16) Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord , neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him. (17) If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
The difference between simply being saved at the resurrection and inheriting the kingdom and eternal life is all about one’s maturity in Christ. We must walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). In the kingdom of heaven, the last shall be first, and the first shall be last (Matthew 19:29-30, 20:16).
Mark 9:35 He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."
The wise are servants. Those who will reign as kings and priests in the age to come must first develop a servant’s heart in this age. Being a minister for Christ is not about building big churches. It’s about loving others and reflecting that love in one’s actions. Jesus continues to teach at the Last Supper:
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. (35) By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Notice the condition given in order to become Christ’s disciple? We must love one another. Christians can easily become caught up in the things of this world, and their love grows cold. They are still saved in spite of this. But without the supernatural love from Christ being carried out in their life, they won’t be resurrected as one of Christ’s disciples.
Did Peter possess the love for Christ that is necessary to be one of Christ’s disciples at this time?
John 13:37-38 Peter said to him, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you ." (38) Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for me? Most certainly I tell you, the rooster won't crow until you have denied me three times.
Peter believed that he loved Christ enough to die for him. But as we find out later, Peter had not yet developed the maturity in Christ that is needed in order to be a leader. Everyone who is to be a priest and king in the millennium must possess the maturity and love of Christ in order to be one of Christ’s leaders. To be resurrected with a spiritual body, we must be willing and ready to die for Christ.
Matthew 10:37-39 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me. (38) He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me. (39) He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
Peter believed he was ready to die for Christ, but Jesus knew that Peter was not yet ready to sacrifice his life. Of course later we find that Peter, when put to the test, denied that he even knew Jesus.
This failure really tore at Peter’s heart. The next time he was in Jesus’ presence was after the resurrection. At their next meeting Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Read this way, as given in most translations, Jesus comes across as being a real jerk. When Peter is at his lowest, Jesus keeps asking Peter if he loves him more than the others. Peter keeps saying yes, but Jesus keeps asking until the point where Peter is grieved because Jesus asked a third time. Some try to apologize for Jesus by pointing out that Peter had denied Jesus three times, so Jesus was asking three times. Yet this still makes Jesus out to be a jerk. In the Greek, however, something entirely different is happening.
In ancient Greek, there are three different words for ‘love.’ Agape love is unconditional love. Philos love is brotherly love. When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me,” these two types of love were being used in the conversation. In this translation, "affection" is used for philos love and "love" for agape love. With this distinction being made in this translation, you can get the idea of what was really being said.
John 21:14-17 This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead. (15) So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." (16) He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." (17) He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?" Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
Peter knew that he had failed the test. He had denied Christ because he was afraid for his life. To Peter’s credit, he displayed honesty in this conversation with Christ. His love for Jesus was not unconditional, and this realization pained him greatly. Peter’s grief over Jesus’ repetition of this question is a completely different type of emotion than it would appear to be when read in a translation without the two different types of love. (Most translations do not make this distinction.) Peter was honest in his statement, “Lord, you know everything,” and in his lack of unconditional love.
Was Jesus chastising Peter for his lack of love? No, Jesus was gently restoring Peter, and gently revealing the way to bring his love from philos "affection" to agape love.
The way to increase our love for God is to increase our love for our neighbor. When Christ said, “feed my sheep,” he was not talking about Peter becoming the pastor of his church. He wanted Peter to adopt a servant’s heart toward anyone in need. “Feed my sheep” was a command to exercise the Spiritual gifts that God has given us in love for one another. As our love for Christ increases, our love for our neighbor increases. Consequently, as our love for our neighbor increases, our love for Christ increases.
In the very next verse, Jesus tells Peter that in the future he will love Christ unconditionally, and was going to die for Him in his old age. Normally this is not something that would brighten one’s day. But in Peter’s case, it was exactly what he needed to hear.
John 21:18-19 Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go." (19) Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. When he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."
This is an example of a servant’s heart, and shows the way to be a true disciple of Christ. No man is greater than his master. Because Christ had only a servant’s heart, His true disciples must only have a servant’s heart. This love requires total devotion to Christ no matter the cost, even if it requires the sacrificing of one’s life.
The symbolism in Revelation from the Old Testament is not just the beast of Daniel 7. The beast is just the most well-known symbol. The symbols, including the beast, are not exactly the same as in the Old Testament. But they are similar enough to rule out coincidence.
1) Revelation 1:17, 2:8, and 22:13 speak of Christ being the first and the last. This is found in Isaiah 44:6, and 48:12.
2) The seven churches are represented as seven lampstands (Revelation 1:12). Seven golden lampstands come from Zechariah 4:2, 10. The lampstands are also from the furniture of the temple.
3) In Revelation 5:6, Christ is described as having seven eyes. This comes from Zechariah 3:9.
4) The scroll with the seven seals is found in Daniel 12:4. In Daniel, the number of seals is not mentioned. But we see in Daniel that the sealing of the words is a sealing of understanding. Daniel did not understand the prophecy. But in the end times, the wise will understand. In Revelation 5-6, Jesus breaks the seven seals, so that the wise begin to understand.
5) In the first four seals, the four horses of white, red, black, and pale (Revelation 6) can be found in Zechariah 1:8-11, 6:1-8. In Revelation they are single horses with a rider. In Zechariah they are chariots of horses. The symbol is not exactly the same, but close enough to rule out coincidence.
6) In the sixth seal, the sun turns black like sackcloth made of goat hair. Sackcloth is for mourning and repentance. Isaiah is a book of poetry. In Isaiah, the sun and moon can have emotions (Isaiah 24:23). The sun and moon can be darkened, or be made brighter, to show emotion in the creation. In Isaiah 13:10, the stars don’t give their light, the sun is darkened, and the moon does not give its light. This is a sign of God’s coming wrath.
7) In the sixth seal, the sky recedes like a scroll and figs drop from the fig tree. This can be found in Isaiah 34:1-4.
8) The scroll that is sweet in the mouth and bitter in the stomach (Revelation 10:8-11) can be found in Ezekiel's call to preach (Ezekiel 2:9-3:3). In Ezekiel, it’s "sweet as honey in the mouth," just as in Revelation. But Ezekiel doesn't mention that it's bitter in the stomach. However, Ezekiel says that on both sides of the scroll are words of lament and mourning and woe. Thus we know why it's bitter in the stomach.
9) The trumpets themselves are a symbol. In the Old Testament, trumpets announced the presence of God, the Jubilee, a gathering of the people, an announcement of news, a signal that war is finished, and the announcement of a new king.
10) Related to the seven thunders of Revelation 10, we find an angel who stands on the land and the sea, who swore by him who lives forever (Revelation 10:5). We can also find this in Daniel 12:7. The difference is that in Daniel 12:7, the angel is over the water of a river.
11) Associated with the two witnesses of Revelation 11, we find two olive trees and two lamp stands (Revelation 11:4). These can be found in Zechariah 4:3, 11-14. In Zechariah, it's talking about the building of the temple. And Revelation 11:1-3 also speaks of the temple.
12) In Revelation 12, the woman, who brought forth a man-child, and later the rest of her offspring, can be found in Isaiah 66:7-13. The metaphor of the woman about to give birth originates in Isaiah 26:17-19. The description of the woman, “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head,” can be found in Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:9).
13) The woman was given two wings of an eagle that she might fly to the desert for protection and nourishment. This comes from Deuteronomy 32:10-11.
14) Revelation 12:14 speaks of a “time, times, and half a time.” This is also found in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7.
15) The beast is found in Daniel 7. Notice that in Revelation 13:2, the beast is one creature resembling a leopard, with feet like a bear, and a mouth like a lion. In Daniel 7, these are three separate beasts. The symbol is close enough to rule out coincidence, but not exactly the same. This will be true of all the other symbols in Revelation, which are found in the Old Testament.
16) The wraths of Revelation include: (1) water changed to blood (Revelation 16:3, 16:4), (2) frogs (Revelation 16:12-14), (3) sores (Revelation 16:2), (4) hail (Revelation 8:7), (5) locusts (Revelation 9:3), (6) and darkness (Revelation 16:1-10). These are six from the ten plagues on Egypt.
17) The firstfruits (Revelation 14:4) are found in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.
18) The winepress of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:19, 19:15) comes from Joel 3:9-16 and Isaiah 63:2-6.
19) The smoke of their torment that goes up forever and ever, in the lake of fire, sulfur, and burning pitch (Revelation 14:10-12) comes from Isaiah 34:8-10.
Any reasonable interpretation of Revelation must show how each and every one of these symbols are consistent with their use in the Old Testament. None of the four major views of Revelation make a serious attempt to do this.
We must interpret Revelation in terms of its theme, which is our personal need to get ready for Christ to return. When we do this, all these Old Testament symbols, found in Revelation, begin to connect. Then all meanings from the Old Testament will fit when applied to their context in Revelation. They all fit when Revelation is viewed as our personal future, under the theme of personal holiness.
Each part of Revelation, such as the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls of wrath, must have a distinct purpose that builds on the theme of personal holiness. Each part must use these Old Testament symbols in a way that is consistent not only with the overall theme, but also with the purpose of that part. The purpose of the seals is to show the signs that identify the end-time generation. The purpose of the trumpets is to call the Church into holiness, so that the Church will be ready for the wedding banquet and for Christ set up his kingdom. And the purpose of the bowls is God’s wrath. They are also a message to the world and to Pharaoh (Satan). God is saying, “Let my people go.”
When we bring all these Old Testament symbols into Revelation, and see how they relate to the overall theme and purpose of Revelation, with each distinct part building on that theme, we see how Revelation is one of the most extraordinary pieces of literature ever written.
Each part of Revelation, the churches, seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath, have distinct purposes. Here is a basic outline of Revelation. Revelation is not strictly chronological. But from an overall perspective, Revelation is chronological.
Introduction and statement of purpose
Theme of Revelation as stated in seven letters to seven churches
Signs of the end-times (baby-boom) generation, as given by the seals.
Bringing the sealed from 144,000 to a countless number
Trumpet-plagues as a wake-up call for the Church
A call to preach to the Church
The building of the temple, which is the Church
The woman about to give birth to the Church
The reign of the two antichrists with emphasis on the global ruler, which is the first beast
A summary of the tribulation period
The bowls of wrath
The destruction of Babylon - a historical perspective. This is a focus on the destruction of Islam and the Mahdi.
Wedding banquet followed by the defeat of the two antichrists
The Millennium followed by the Great White Throne Judgment
The new heavens and the new earth
Verses 21:9 - 22:21
The pre-tribulation appearance of the New Jerusalem.
Sandwiched between the sixth and the seventh trumpets are two whole chapters of Revelation. Chapters 10 and 11 include things like the angel with the little scroll, the measuring of the temple, and the two witnesses. This is also true with the seals and the bowls of wrath. Sandwiched between the sixth and the seventh seals are the 144,000 and the countless number from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Sandwiched between the sixth and the seventh bowls of wrath are two verses (Revelation 16:15-16) that speak of the rapture and Armageddon. These sandwiched portions give us an idea about the purpose of the seals, trumpets, and bowls.
The seals use Old Testament symbolism to show the signs of the end-time generation that will see Christ's return. The four horses (first four seals) are about the world’s superpower nations that exist in this generation. The fifth seal is about the gospel being preached to all nations before Christ returns. And the sixth seal is about the appearance of the New Jerusalem. Men are terrified of the day of the Lord. The appearance of the New Jerusalem, I believe, is about six months prior to the start of the seven-year period that includes the great tribulation. The seventh seal is silence in heaven for half an hour. I believe this is a six-month period between the appearance of the New Jerusalem and the preaching of the two witnesses during the first half of the seven-year period.
Sandwiched between the sixth and the seventh seals are the 144,000 and the countless number from every nation, tribe, people, and language. What is this saying about the end-time generation that will see Christ's return? As indicated by the fifth seal, the gospel (good news) about Jesus Christ has been preached to all the nations during this generation. But that gospel has not emphasized the need to overcome sin. If put to the test, most Christians today would fail just as Peter failed. Most Christians today are on the path of wide gate that leads to destruction. We are more concerned about making money, and the problems of every-day life, than we are about living for Christ and overcoming sin.
There are a few, however, who are ready for Christ to return. After the New Jerusalem appears, the 144,000 will see Christ face-to-face in Jerusalem (Rev. 14:1). This is before the seven-year covenant begins. They will receive spiritual bodies and inherit eternal life because they will have overcome sin before Christ's return. But the many will not be ready. Christ will confirm a covenant with many for seven more years in order for them to get ready. These are seven years of the millennial day of the Lord. Thus, the end-time generation is brought from the few (144,000) to a countless number as a result of going through the great tribulation. They will "come out of the great tribulation" (Rev. 7:14) to receive white robes, a symbol of purity, and stand before the throne of Christ.
Sandwiched between the sixth and the seventh trumpet are chapters 10 and 11. These chapters tell us about the purpose of the trumpet-plagues. In the Old Testament, trumpets announced the presence of God, the jubilee, a gathering of the people, an announcement of news, a signal that war is finished, and the announcement of a new king. Based on the Old Testament symbols, chapter 10 is about the mystery of God. It's also a call to preach to the Church. Chapter 11 is about the building of the Church, symbolized as the building of the temple that occurs as a result of the trumpets. The trumpets are literal plagues similar to the ones God poured out on Egypt. In other words, the shock-and-awe that occurs because of the trumpet-plagues causes the Church to get serious about overcoming sin. And overcoming sin is the theme of Revelation. So, chapter 10 is the call to holiness. Chapter 11 is how that holiness comes about. The seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15) is an announcement that this goal has been accomplished. It says, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!" In other words, the Church must overcome sin before we are ready to reign with Christ. The trumpets are a call to do just that.
The woman, about to give birth, is about the "desert" of sanctification that the Church must go through before Christ can set up his earthly kingdom. The Bride must overcome sin, as stated in the seven letters, before they can reign with Christ. But this doesn't happen overnight. The time of the trumpet-plagues is a time to get the Bride serious about overcoming sin. The time of the "desert" is the time of sanctification that is needed to actually overcome sin. In other words, it takes time to overcome sin. The time of the "desert" is when the antichrist rules 42 months over ever nation, tribe, people, and language. The saints are conquered by the antichrist. But persecution brings holiness. For the world, it's not a time of great tribulation. For the world, it's a time of "eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" (Matt. 24:38). The bowls of wrath are the "sudden destruction" that comes after the reign of the antichrist. The wrath is after the resurrection. Again, these are literal plagues, which are even more like the ones God poured out on Egypt. So, it's really wrath against the world of sin. After the wrath of Christ, which is at the battle of Armageddon, Christ sets up the earthly kingdom.
The first verse of Revelation is, “This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon ." This verse is considered by many scholars to be an allusion to Daniel 2:28, which reads, “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." The Greek words for this verse in Revelation are very similar to the Greek in the Septuagint, for this verse in Daniel. Notice that, “latter days” becomes “must take place quickly.” Verse 1:3 of Revelation amplifies this by saying, “the time is near.”
Daniel 2:26-28 The king answered Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation? (27) Daniel answered before the king, and said, The secret which the king has demanded can neither wise men, enchanters, magicians, nor soothsayers, show to the king; (28) but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head on your bed, are these:
Preterists have used this to say Revelation has already been fulfilled. But Revelation is simply saying that every generation is to believe that Christ can return in their lifetime, but that great tribulation will come first. Daniel was told that he would rest until the time of the end (Daniel 12:13). Therefore, the time of the end is the time of the resurrection. The Old Testament does not teach this expectation of a soon coming of the Messiah. But now that Christ has come, the New Testament gives all generations the hopeful expectation of Christ’s soon return.
Not even the disciples were to know the “times or the seasons” of Christ’s coming (Acts 1:7). But they were taught to expect Christ to return soon (Matthew 23:10, 16:27-28, 24:34). Revelation 1:1-3 continues with this teaching.
Revelation 1:8b says Christ is the one, “who is, and who was, and who is coming.” This verse parallels verse 19, where John is told to “write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to come after these things.” The things that John has seen relate to the vision itself. The “things that are” relate to the seven letters to the seven churches. And the things that “come after these things” relate to the events of the end-times, and the fifth kingdom of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
It’s important to realize the significance of the letters to the theme. The letters are to the churches. The rest of Revelation is also to the churches. Revelation is to the churches of all generations. But the things that are taught in Revelation are even more important to the generation that actually witnesses all these things.
The next verse (Revelation 1:20) speaks of a mystery. In the Greek, this sentence starts with the word ‘mystery’ and it’s an article. This is considered awkward grammar in Greek, because there is no transitional word from the previous sentence. This seems to have prompted Young’s Literal Translation to force a continuation of the previous sentence using a semicolon. There are a number of such solecisms in Revelation, where there seems to be intentional problems with the grammar. The solecisms tend to make the reader pause in his reading, forcing him to closely consider what’s being said. Some scholars believe these solecisms are used to indicate an allusion to the Old Testament.
Revelation 1:19-20 Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter; (20) the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies.
The word “mystery” is being used in this verse to say that a symbol is being interpreted. As we have seen, Revelation 1:1 is an allusion to Daniel 2:27-28. These verses also speak of a mystery. Daniel interprets the “mystery” of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Likewise, Revelation 1:20 interprets the “mystery” of the seven golden lampstands in verse 12, and the seven stars in verse 16. Thus we see the allusion to Daniel 2:27-28.
This verse is also an allusion to Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, and Luke 8:10, where the parables are spoken of as being mysteries. Jesus is saying that the “mystery” of the kingdom of heaven is given to the disciples, but is hidden from the wicked. And this is why Jesus spoke in parables. In all three of these passages, the mystery is hidden from the wicked so that “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand” (Luke 8:10b). Each of the seven letters to the seven churches says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 1:3 also says, “Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it.” Therefore, Revelation as a whole is a similar mystery. It’s hidden from the wicked, but those who are wise will hear it and take it to heart. And Revelation uses Old Testament symbolism for the same reason that Jesus spoke in parables. The mystery of Revelation is hidden from the wicked so that “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”
Parables are used to hide the truth from the wicked. But they are also used to show the truth to the righteous. A parable can be used to show righteousness in a fictional person, and then we desire the same righteousness in ourselves. Likewise, a parable can be used to show a sinful nature in a fictional person, and then the righteous person recognizes the same sinful nature in himself. There is one example of this in the Old Testament. In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan tells King David a parable about a rich man who took a much loved lamb from a poor man. David burned with anger at hearing the story. Then David was told he was that rich man. David was made to understand before it was revealed to him that the sin was within himself. Hearing this David repented.
In a very similar way, symbolism is being used in Revelation. The theme of Revelation is that the Bride must make herself ready for Christ to return (Revelation 19:7). Each and every one of the seven letters to the seven churches says, “He who overcomes” will inherit the kingdom, or some description thereof. (Overcoming sin is not about salvation. It’s about inheriting the kingdom.) Today, most Christians don’t understand Revelation. They think they are ready for Christ to return. Most Christians expect to either skip over the great tribulation, or they believe the great tribulation is only figurative or historic. When the trumpet-plagues begin, however, the righteous will repent. But those in the churches whose hearts have been hardened will remain wicked and will deny God’s call to repent.
Each and every one of the seven letters to the seven churches says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This confirms that Revelation 1:20 is an allusion to Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, and Luke 8:10. Originally, this comes from Isaiah 6, which was Isaiah’s call to preach.
Isaiah 6:8-11a NIV Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?”
Notice that Isaiah asks, “How long?” How long is the gospel to be preached? God only gives a sign. This aspect of the mystery is hidden until the time of the end. We will see the signs and we will know when Christ will return. We will know how long these mysteries will remain hidden from the wicked. So, not even the wise understand how long it will take. But the mystery of God’s timeline will not remain a mystery to the wise of the end-time generation.
Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and John in Revelation all speak about a mystery of God. The disciples asked the question, “When will all this happen” (Matthew 24:3)? Jesus answered and said that no man has known. He gives us a sign. "When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand ” (Matthew 24:15).
The last vision in Daniel asks the same question and gives the same answer. The angel above the water was asked, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders” (Daniel 12:6)? These wonders climaxed with the resurrection and then included the Messianic reign of Christ. The answer given was “a time, times, and half a time.” Daniel didn’t understand but was told that he would not understand. He was told to seal the book until the time of the end. But he was given a sign. From the abomination of desolation, until the resurrection (by context) is 1290 days. Thus, Jesus gives the same answer to the same question. He says that when we see the abomination of desolation that the reader (of Daniel) should understand the answer to the question. Until we see the abomination, it remains a mystery.
Paul talks about this mystery. The mystery of God is about the resurrection. Jesus was raised from the dead; and so shall we. We will get spiritual bodies just like Jesus. Also, part of the mystery is that Gentiles are grafted into Israel, which is the olive tree, and that the Jews were hardened until the full number of Gentiles come into Israel. (1 Corinthians 15:51, Ephesians 1:9-10, 3:1-13, Romans 11:25)
Related to the seven thunders of Revelation 10, we find an angel who stands on the land and the sea, who swore by him who lives forever (Revelation 10:5). We also find this in Daniel 12:7. The angel in Daniel lifts his right hand, and his left hand towards heaven. The angel in Revelation lifts his right hand toward heaven. This is not exactly the same, but it is close enough to rule out coincidence. Both the angel in Revelation and the angel in Daniel “swear by him who lives forever.”
Revelation 10:2, 5-7
He had in his hand a little open book. He
set his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land. ...
(5) The angel who I saw standing on
the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to the sky,
(6) and swore by him who lives forever
and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the
things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there
will no longer be delay, (7) but
in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the
mystery of God is finished, as he declared to his servants, the prophets.
Daniel 12:5-7 Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, there stood other two, the one on the brink of the river on this side, and the other on the brink of the river on that side. (6) One said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? (7) I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by him who lives forever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished .
In Daniel, the angel says, “It will be for a time, times and half a time.” This is in response to the question, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” Looking back to verse 2, and forward to verse 13, we see that “these astonishing things” includes the resurrection. The question is, “How long will it be before [the resurrection] takes place?” The answer is, “A time, times, and half a time.” Daniel, of course, does not understand the answer. The angel tells him that the words are sealed until the time of the end. In other words, Daniel is not supposed to understand. It’s a mystery to Daniel. Only the wise at the time of the end will understand. (Refer back to section 16.3 for the reasons why the answer to the question is three and a half millennia. The original question was asked in the middle of the millennial week from Adam through Christ’s millennial reign.)
Compare this vision in Daniel 12 with what happens in Revelation. When the angel shouts, the seven thunders speak. But John is told, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” This is almost exactly what Daniel is told. Daniel is told the words are sealed. John is told to seal the words. So, that which the seven thunders say is probably related to the answer given to Daniel, which is “A time, times, and half a time.” It’s an indication of how long it will be from Daniel’s vision until the resurrection and then the millennial reign.
Until the time of the end, the day of the resurrection is unknown. It’s the mystery of God. But Daniel is given a sign. From the abomination of desolation, there are 1290 days to the resurrection. Once we see the abomination, the wise will be able to compute the days and thus know the date of the resurrection. When we see the abomination, the mystery of God will be over. It will no longer be a mystery for the entire Church. But the wicked will continue to be wicked, and will not understand. This is what Daniel is told in Daniel 12:9-10.
Let’s go back to the original question asked in Daniel 12:6 and later by the disciples in Matthew 24:3. How long will it be before the resurrection? When will all this happen? The angel in Daniel says, “It will be for a time, times and half a time,” which is very cryptic. The angel in Revelation says, “There will be no more delay!” (NIV Revelation 10:6b). The KJV translation of this verse says, “There should be time no longer.”
The idea that time will be no longer sounds a bit strange. That’s why most modern-day translations say, “There will be no more delay.” But the KJV is more literally correct. And there are other Greek words that mean ‘delay.’ The Greek word used here for ‘time’ is ‘chronos.’ It means a space of time, and is distinguished from the Greek word ‘kairos’, which means a fixed or set time. In other words, right now the day and hour of Christ’s return is unknown. So, we are in a ‘chronos’ period of time. When we see the abomination of desolation, the time will be known or fixed. The seventh trumpet is blown when the unknown amount of time (‘chronos’) is no longer, and the time of the resurrection becomes fixed (‘kairos’) and known. At this point in time, the mystery of God is no longer a mystery.
In the days when the seventh trumpet is about to sound, the wise will know the day of the resurrection. This is the mystery of God (Romans 11:25, 16:25, 1 Cor. 15:51, Eph. 1:9-10, Eph. 3:1-13, Col. 1:26-27, 2:2, 4:3, 1 Tim. 3:16, Rev. 10:7). The mystery includes the fact that Gentiles are included in Israel and will be resurrected, and that God will bring to himself a people after his own heart, where God’s law is written on our hearts. Daniel did not understand the mystery of God. He was told to seal the words of the scroll. After the advent of Christ, the mystery of God was better understood, but the timing of the climactic resurrection was not understood (Matthew 24:36, Acts 1:7). But according to Daniel 12:9-10, the mystery of God, including the timing, will be understood at the time of the end, especially when we see the abomination. There may even be other aspects to this mystery that will be understood as we approach the day of the Lord.
Revelation 10:7 but in
the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the
mystery of God is finished, as he declared to his servants, the prophets.
Revelation 11:15 The seventh angel sounded, and great voices in heaven followed, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!"